HMAS Albatross aircrew play role in pirate bust 

Personnel from HMAS Albatross took part in an operation that resulted in the arrest of suspected pirates in Middle Eastern waters. 

Royal Australian Navy ship, HMAS Melbourne, has intercepted suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia as part of maritime security patrols in Middle Eastern waters for Operation SLIPPER.

The suspected pirates were intercepted on October 15 after the Combined Maritime Forces received two reports of attempted acts of piracy against two separate merchant vessels during the previous four days.

 A Seahawk helicopter from HMAS Albatross that was assigned to the HMAS Melbourne for the operation had observed the suspected drug-smuggling vessel transferring a number of unidentified packages to another dhow operating in the same area.

Under the direction of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151), HMAS Melbourne was appointed as on-scene commander for a multi-national search operation, involving ships and aircraft from the Combined Maritime Forces and European Union Naval Forces to locate and intercept the suspected pirates.

With the assistance of other CTF 151 assets, HMAS Melbourne successfully located the suspected pirate vessels.

HMAS Melbourne‘s highly trained boarding team made the final approach to board and search the skiffs successfully apprehending the nine pirates.

Commander Brian Schlegel, Commanding Officer HMAS Melbourne said that the Ship’s Company knew what to do and was well trained to ensure a positive outcome.

“Melbourne’s success in disrupting piracy activity in the region re-affirms the importance of Australia’s ongoing commitment to Combined Maritime Forces,” Commander Schlegel said.

“Melbourne’s Ship’s Company have worked tirelessly to contribute to a successful outcome for both Combined Maritime Forces and for the wider Maritime Community.”

HMAS Melbourne’s boarding party provided information about various items located onboard the two vessels that could be used in piracy attacks.

In accordance with the Combined Maritime Forces direction, the pirates were embarked in HMASMelbourne and the skiffs and associated pirate equipment was destroyed.

HMAS Melbourne is currently returning the suspected pirates to Somalia.

The quick, co-ordinated and decisive response to threats in the maritime environment highlights the importance of the continued presence of multi-national forces in the Middle East region.

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